English Literature / Drama GCSE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Act 1, Scene 2 - Quince v Bottom (workshop)

Bottom and Quince battle to be the most important person present.

Christopher Godwin and Felix Hayes discuss insights gained through playing their characters as high and low status.

This short film is from the BBC series, Shakespeare Unlocked.

Teacher Notes

This short film raises the question of status and opens the discussion of how the characters react to each other.

Before watching the workshop, ask your students to decide on the status of the actors in this scene (you could do this with a card-sort).

Then ask them to share their ideas in pairs, fours and eights and see if they can come to an agreement._

When they watch the workshop, ask them to be attentive to the actors' ideas, and consider how far they shared their ideas about the relative status of the different characters.

After watching the workshop, ask your students to discuss what they observed when the actors played around with status.

  • What did they notice about how the actors moved? Spoke? Behaved with each other?
  • What happened when Quince played low status and Bottom played high status?
  • What worked, if anything, with this interpretation? What didn't?
  • What happened when the situations were reversed and Quince played high status and Bottom played low status? What worked? What didn't?

The actors were asked who they thought carried the higher status within the scene, Quince or Bottom.

One actor felt that, on balance, it was Quince.

Ask your students who they think has the higher status, and why.

One actor says that apart from Quince and Bottom all the rest of the group seem undifferentiated in terms of status.

Do students agree with this, or do they think that distinctions are made between them?

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE English literature and drama in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/ 5 in Scotland.

More from Shakespeare Unlocked - A Midsummer Nights Dream

Act 1, Scene 2 - Clowning around (workshop)
Act 1, Scene 2 - The Mechanicals
Act 2, Scene 1 - Helena and Demetrius (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 1 - Playing Helena (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 1 - The Fairies
Act 2, Scene 1 - Ecological disaster (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 1 - The Lovers
Act 2, Scene 1 - Titania crosses Oberon (workshop)